πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️ Lucia Chapter 96 - 100 Full Chapters πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️

Lucia Chapter 96
LUCIA
C96
< — Ever After — > (1)


When Lucia woke up in the morning, the maid brought in a bundle of flowers. These days, this event repeated itself every morning. Lucia was happy to receive the colorful and beautiful, lavender statice flowers. Every time she received a bouquet of flowers, she recalled why he began to send her flowers and it made her laugh.


Lucia had no idea that the reason why he hated roses was related to herself. She didn’t know how much she had laughed when Jerome secretly hinted that fact to her. Actually, Lucia was not that bothered about the yellow roses, but she didn’t know he was really worried and went to the extent of ordering Jerome to put a ban on roses.


She buried her nose in the statice bouquet and after taking in its faint scent, she returned the bouquet to the maid. Afterwards, the maid was going to place the bouquet as a decoration somewhere in her room. Her bedroom was already turning into a garden of statice flowers. Soon, there would be no more space in her room and the decorations would have to expand to the receiving room.


Lucia sat in the receiving room, doing embroidery and frequently glancing at the door. There was someone she had been waiting for since morning. Seeing the door opening up, Lucia quickly rose to her feet. Jerome came into the receiving room, escorting an old man. Lucia’s face lit up with bright smile as she ran to the old man.


“Welcome, Grandfather.”


“Haha. Yes. Yes.”


The draw of blood-relationship was really amazing. Lucia felt close to her grandfather as if she had known him for a very long time. Lucia’s personality wasn’t very sociable, but she didn’t hesitate when she gave her grandfather a big hug.


“You’re hungry, right? I’ll have lunch prepared right away.” (Lucia)


“No, No. Let’s take it easy. Let me see my granddaughter’s face. Have you been well?” (Count)


“Of course. What about you, Grandfather?”


“I’m more or less okay.”


Count Baden laughed heartily because his affectionate granddaughter was just too lovely. Lucia grabbed the wrinkled and coarse hand of her grandfather and led him to the couch. Soon, Jerome brought them tea and left them alone so that the two of them could share their joy of reunion.


“I didn’t know I would come back to the capital so soon.” (Count)


His grandson-in-law told him, ‘Whenever you want to come, you can use the gate,’ but at the time, the Count wondered what would make him deliberately come to the capital. He didn’t want his well-off granddaughter to be inconvenienced because an old man kept hanging around. And since he had personally seen his granddaughter doing well, he was going to try living his life and consider it as a blessing in his later years.


However, a messenger came to him with the message that his granddaughter missed him very much and wanted to him to come visit sometime. He was very happy and overjoyed to get that message. Even though her useless grandfather had not been able to take care of her, she still missed him. And after returning to the capital, the Count kept thinking of his granddaughter who resembled his daughter very much.


“I know I shamelessly contacted you and came all of sudden like this.” (Count)


“What do you mean? There’s no such thing. I should be the one to go visit you, but you’re coming instead, and I feel sorry.” (Lucia)


“No. I should be the once to come. I know you’re not in a position where you can move around carelessly.”


Although the Count was not someone greedy for riches and fame, he was secretly proud of the fact that his granddaughter was the Madam of a big family like the Duke of Taran household.




“This time, get some rest in our home before you go. You can’t be stubborn like last time and say you’re staying somewhere else.” (Lucia)


“Haha. Alright. I got it.” (Count)


Lucia had lunch with her grandfather and as they took a walk together, they engaged in small talk. In the afternoon, she took her grandfather to look around the mansion, drink tea, and have a pleasant chat. Interestingly enough, they had something to talk about the entire time. Their eyes were the brightest when they shared stories about Amanda whom they both loved very much.


“There is something I want to ask you about, Grandfather. It’s about the pendant I mentioned to you before.”


“I guess you found it.”


The Count remembered his grandson-in-law telling him that he wanted to find the pendant and give it to his granddaughter as a gift. He felt that his grandson-in-law’s care for his wife was commendable and was pleased that the couple’s relationship was good.


“Ah, I didn’t find it.”


And I probably won’t find it forever. Lucia was convinced that the day she entered the palace, the pendant gave her a strange dream that night and disappeared.


“I was curious about the story of the pendant which was passed down as a heirloom. Grandfather, when you inherited the pendant, did you hear anything else about it?”


“Hmm. When my father gave that pendant to me, he only told me to keep it carefully because it was a precious item.”


“Was there anything else, like a separately written document?”


“There is no such thing. Maybe there was something like that a very long time ago. But it has been so long…that thing was left to us by the founder of our family. Even if it didn’t have a grand legend attached to it, it has been passed down for generations and I would have kept it preciously.”


“It was left by the founder? So, it’s a very ancient item. Grandfather, have you ever thoguht that the pendant is a treasure of enormous value? For example, something like…a magical tool.”


“A magical tool?”


The Count gave an empty laugh.


“Even I have had such a thought. No matter how valuable the heirloom is, it’s useless if the family crumbles. I was so frustrated that I once took the pendant and went to a famous magical tool appraiser.”


The appraiser was interested in the fact that the pendant was an ancient item, but he shook his head and said it wasn’t a magical tool. It showed no reaction to the identifier which picks out the specific wavelength of magical tools. The Count told his granddaughter of his experience from a long time ago, where he visited the appraiser just to be sure, and returned home with disappointment.


‘It’s not a magical tool? Then what explains what I have experienced?’


“You’re very interested in the pendant. Do you like antiques?” (Count)


“Not…exactly. For me, the pendant has memories with my mother… Do you really not know anything more about the pendant? It can be something very trivial. It’s an item left behind by the founder and even has the legend that it will save the family when it is in a crisis…”


As Lucia was talking, a thought suddenly flashed through her mind.


‘Save…the family?’


A chill ran up her spine.


‘I saved it. I saved the family. Because I dreamt about it…’


According to Lucia’s dream, the annihilation of Count Baden family was in the future to come. However, Lucia saw the future in a dream and moved to change the future, therefore the future had changed.


There would never be a connection between Lucia’s uncle and the Count of Matin, and the Baden family will never be caught up in the treason of Count Matin. At the very least, as long as Lucia was alive, the Baden family would not cease to exist. Lucia would not stand aside and let it happen.


‘Is it a coincidence?’


The pendant did not directly help the Baden family. However, it showed Lucia the future and made her take action.


‘…If we say the magical tool’s power to show the future is a power to save the family from crisis, then that’s forcing it. I only wanted to change my future, but that was a resulting outcome.’


If Lucia had dismissed the dream as a mere daydream or gave up and accepted the coming future, the future of the Baden family may have gone in the direction of extermination. Hugo could have rejected her marriage proposal and Lucia would have not become Duchess. Even aside from that, there were many other uncertain areas.


“A legend about saving the family…”


Hearing the Count’s muttering, Lucia put off her thoughts for later. Now, she concentrated on what her grandfather was saying.


“Seeing as you know about that, Amanda must have told you.” (Count)


Lucia heard it from her uncle who she met in her dream, but she simply smiled without saying anything.


“That girl, your mother didn’t believe in the legend. She said such legends are all lies. And that if the legend was true, her mother, my wife, would not have passed away.”


The Count continued speaking with a bitter look on his face.


“Back then, I scolded your mother but actually, I thought the same. It was just the consideration of out ancestors who wanted to encourage their descendants. Perhaps that legend was the one strand of hope that kept our family going up till now.”


“…Since when did the legend of the pendant saving the family exist?”


The Count wondered why his granddaughter was showing an unusual amount of interest in the pendant. Maybe she clung to it because it had memories with her mother and at that thought, he felt sad.


“Since when? I believe it existed from the beginning. It is said that the founder left it in his will when he first passed on the heirloom.”


“What kind of person was the founder?”


“The founder of our Baden family was a martial artist. He was a great knight and a meritorious subject in the founding of Xenon.”


The Count gave a benevolent smile and told his granddaughter the old story that his grandfather and father had told to him. Just as there were founding myths for every country, most families with long histories had a story made by exaggerating the contribution of their ancestor. As the story passed from mouth to mouth, more ‘flesh’ was added to it and an epic tale was made.


Lucia enjoyed her grandfather’s story a lot but even though she wanted to know more, there was no clue regarding the pendant in the long story.


< — Ever After — > (1)


The Count stayed at the ducal residence for four days. Lucia felt sad about her grandfather leaving and asked him to stay for a few more days.


“If they don’t hear from me for a while, your uncles will be worried. They don’t know I came to the capital. They only know that I’ll be visiting a friend for a few days.” (Count)


“Did you really not tell anyone?” (Lucia)


“I’m sorry. I’m very worried about them being unnecessarily caught up in the capital’s comple political battle. Even though it’s upsetting, please understand.”


“I’m not upset.”


Her grandfather chose the best method for his son’s family’s sake and for his granddaughter’s sake. Lucia completely understood her grandfather’s thoughtfulness.


“And…thank you.” (Count)


“Huh?” (Lucia)


“Actually, when I came to the capital last time, I had a difficult issue. The family mansion was about to fall into other people’s hands. I decided that when I got home, I would sell my title and settle my debts; I didn’t want to burden my sons anymore. But after I got back, the problem was smoothly settled. As long as we pay a small amount of money every month, the family can continue living in the house, and business your uncle started is going well recently. You were concerned, weren’t you?”


“…”


Lucia asked her husband to help her maternal family, but she didn’t yet know the specifics of how he helped them.


“…I don’t know much about business. It’s probably my husband’s handiwork. If there’s anything I can help with, do please tell me. I want to be of help to you, grandfather.”


“You’ve done enough. There are many different ways to help people. It is easy for a wealthy person to help by throwing money in front of someone who does not have a lot. But not everyone can help without revealing who they are, without hurting the pride of the recipient, and also allow the recipient to stand up on their feet. My granddaughter married very well.”


“Grandfather. You have to say that about him too.”


The Count burst out laughing pleasantly.


“Right. My grandson-in-law also got a very good wife. Indeed.”


Both grandparent and grandchild looked at each other and erupted in a bout of laughter. They looked each other warmly before saying their goodbyes with a final embrace.


“Take care. I’ll come again.” (Count)


“Yes. Come anytime you want.” (Lucia)


After seeing her grandfather off, Lucia thought of the pendant that she had forgotten about for a few days. She calmly organized her thoughts together from the beginning. She based her premise on the fact that the pendant was certainly a magical tool and through an extraordinary power, it showed Lucia a dream. And she chewed over the Baden family legend that was told to her.


‘It will save the family from crisis… How does the power of predicting the future save the family from crisis? It would have been better to show the future of the Baden family being wiped out to my uncle. Why was it shown to me?


As she leaned onto the sofa, she gave a short sigh.


‘…What if it was seen? What if the very situation of myself changing the future after seeing the future in a dream was seen. What if the ancestors saw it with the power of the pendant?”


If the magical tool had mysterious power, the power should be able to work on other people as much as it worked on Lucia. But what still didn’t make sense was why the pendant’s power worked on Lucia of all people.


According to her grandfather, the pendant did not react to magical tool identification device. That could be explained by assuming it was sealed with a special power. Magical tools were mysterious items with a lot of secrets were yet to be revealed. Then, what was the trigger that broke the seal?


After mulling over it for a long time, Lucia vacantly gazed at her hand. Her young hands had held the pendant very tight. When the handmaid forcibly took one of her hands to confirm her lineage, the young Lucia squeezed the pendant with her other hand and hid it in her chest. The handmaid pricked the young girl’s finger with a needle, drawing blood. Even with her senses were half-gone, Lucia had felt the smarting pain at her fingertips.


‘Blood…’


Lucia drew in a deep breath. The puncture wound from the needle was not that big. But because she was holding the pendant very tight, blood would have flowed from the wound. And most likely, no, definitely, the pendant was stained with Lucia’s blood.


‘The blood…what if the blood was the key to breaking the seal?’


The people of the Baden family regarded the pendant as a precious heirloom and kept it in a safe where no one could reach it. There was no chance for someone’s to reach it. Most likely, if the Badan family enjoyed an era of prosperity without any mishaps, the heirloom would have remained safely stored in the safe.


‘My mother would even have conceived the idea of secretly taking the pendant from the safe.’


Lucia felt joy as if she had found the answer to a difficult riddle, then she felt disappointed. There was no one who could tell her if she was right or not. Unlike what she expected, her grandfather knew almost nothing. Now that the pendant had disappeared, she couldn’t even find a clue.


After thinking till her head hurt, Lucia chuckled to herself. She was worrying over nothing. What did it matter if it was a magical tool or not?


‘If everything was your arrangement, Sir Founder. Thank you for caring for the future of your distant future descendants.’


Lucia decided to quit worrying about the unanswerable question. In any case, the future that would unfold was an unexplored frontier. A new path would open in the direction she stepped in.


At that moment, a maid knocked on the door of the receiving room and came in.


“Milady. Master has come back.”


“Alright.”


Lucia stood up to go out and greet him. She wanted to thank her husband for helping her maternal family and also relay her grandfather’s happy praise for him. With an excited heart, Lucia hurried out of the receiving room.

_____________
Lucia Chapter 97
LUCIA
C97

< — Ever After — > (2)


Boris Elliot was eighteen years old and the youngest among the knights under the Duke of Taran. He was son of Captain Caliss Elliot. Today, he arrived at the capital with a very important mission. It was his first time in the capital. He tried to stay alert, but kept loosening up and looking around with his mouth agape.


“Boris.”


Boris discovered a familiar face coming to greet him and gave a broad smile.


“To come all the way here on your own, you’ve worked hard.” (?)


“No. I should be able to do this much.” (Boris)


‘I came all the way here on my own! I did good!’ were written all over Boris’ face. Dean swallowed his laughter. When he first saw Boris, he was a 10-year-old little boy. Before he knew it, the boy had grown up this much and it was fascinating.


Boris kept fidgeting with excitement in the carriage heading to the Duke’s residence. He frequently fiddled with his chest as if afraid someone would steal the message in his bosom. It was obvious to anyone that his attitude was of someone who had something valuable. If he were walking through the capital’s streets, he would definitely be a target of pickpockets.


Dean could roughly guess the contents of the message that Boris was coddling so much. It was news about the subjugation of the barbarians. It was around time for the annual event to return.


“Is everything alright in the North?”


“Roam is fine, but it seems something happened near the barbarian border. Father has been at the border for quite a while.”


“Is that so? Did the Captain send any word in particular?”


“He didn’t say anything special, only asked if I would be able to participate when there is a military expedition. And then he told to bring a message to the lord.”


Dean was startled.


‘What is the Captain thinking? This guy in the northern subjugation? Already?’


The Captain was a strict father. But still, this was too soon. In any case, Boris would follow after the Captain and join the elite knight squad. A few years later wouldn’t be late. To Dean, they didn’t need the boy on the already terrible battlefield.


For generations, the Duke of Taran House had a group of knights called ‘elite’. It was not an official position. They were treated like any other knight. However, only the elite knights could follow the Duke once a year on a punitive expedition to discipline and rule the northern barbarians. The history of the elite knights began from a very long time ago. For generations, the head of the Taran family would personally chose the knights that would accompany him for the direct subjugation of the barbarians. Hugo chose only ten people as elites.


Dean recalled how overwhelmed he felt the moment when he was first chosen as an elite. He was not a knight for generations, and he was selected as an elite along with Roy, even though he was a commoner. It was an honor to become an elite. All the other knights of the ducal house were envious of that position. It was evidence that one had received the trust of the Duke even without any merit of status or wealth. And the knights who became elites grew more and more skilled. When they left for subjugation, the Duke personally taught them swordsmanship while it was taking place.


‘…Can this guy bear it?’


Unlike how he appeared, the boy was inwardly quite sturdy. Dean could imagine how well the Captain had taught his son. Probably because he was watched the boy since he was a child, Dean was worried about him.


There was a unwritten rule among the elite knights. Anything that occurred during the subjugation must be taken with silence until death. If the glorious outward appearance of the elite knights was the light, then the hidden part was the darkness.



The Duke was extremely cruel when he was subjugating barbarians. In the war between nations and territories, he simply beheaded them in one stroke and flung the head away but when he was accompanied by just the elite knights, he didn’t do it so cleanly. He cut off their limbs, crushed their heads with his foot, disemboweled them after cutting them open, ripped out their hearts with his bare hand. And even with that, his red eyes were so dreadfully cold that it made one think it would be less frightening if he were to go on a rampage with craze for blood.


It was no wonder the elite knights grew strong. Anyone would become like that after going through such bloodbath. Furthermore, as time passed, you begin to have nerves of steel and remain unsurprised when it was at a tolerable level.


One day, when they were returning after a subjugation expedition and had made camp, Roy asked the Duke a question. It was a question that only Roy could ask.


[My Lord. Why do you leave your sword at the side and tear them apart by hand? Is that your hobby?]


Everyone froze. This crazy son of a—. Can’t he distinguish between things you should say and things you shouldn’t. They inwardly let out streams of abuse and studied the face of their lord.


Unexpectedly, the Duke didn’t show much of a reaction. After a short interval, he gave a brief reply.


[Killing gives me feeling. Otherwise, I feel like a monster because I don’t feel anything.]


Even the tactless Roy did not keep asking questions.


Dean thought the expressionless face of the Duke as he was saying those words looked painful. And after that, he strangely didn’t frown at the extremely cruel murderous actions of the Duke. He had numbly come to see it as the natural law of the jungle, just like looking at the moment of a wolf hunting down sheep.


< — Ever After — > (2)


“Son of Sir. Elliot. We have troubled you to come all this way.”


Looking at the dark-haired man that was sitting behind the desk, Boris clenched his trembling fists.


“No, sir! I was not troubled at all!”


Boris was completely unable to think of a proper greeting. His mind was frozen. As he stood there as stiff as possible, Dean tapped his back from the side, startling him out of his trance. Boris hurriedly took out the message in his chest pocket and handed it to the Duke.


The content of the message from Callis Elliot was mostly about the border and some news about the north. The most particularly important part of the message, was concerning the movement of the barbarians. The barbarians were a tribal group that bordered most of the northern part of Xenon, which was the territory of Taran.


They frequently came down from the border and plundered whatever they could get their hands on. There were hundreds of small barbarian tribes, so there wasn’t a clear target for them to war against. Whenever the band of robbers were directly caught, the other tribes would deny all knowledge of them and claimed they were not involved.


Since the barbarians were a group of horse riders, the speed with which they attacked and withdrew was instantaneous. Because their purpose was solely to plunder food, whenever the situation turned slightly unfavorable, they would quickly take to their heels. For them, there was no such thing as honor or chivalry.


“When was the last subjugation?” (Hugo)


“A year and two months ago.”


“So it’s time to clean up the pests.”


The indifferent muttering was tinged with the thick smell of blood.


In order to stop the looting and prevent the barbarians from gaining too much momentum, the Duke regularly dispatched knights and led them into battle, with him personally leading at the front. In the nation, it was believed that the Duke of Taran was protecting the nation from the barbarians. That belief wasn’t wrong, but it wasn’t true either.


The Duke did not drive the barbarians into a corner. Even though if he seriously made up his mind, he had the capability to go to war and completely wipe them out so much that they wouldn’t be able to stir up trouble for the next few decades, the Duke did not do so. The barbarians were a necessary evil for the Duke of Taran.


The barbarians had to exist in order for the Taran family to have a purpose to exist. As long as the troublesome barbarians existed, no one could carelessly touch the Taran family.


The secret room of the Taran family contained the teachings of the ancestors that talked about how to handle the barbarians. First, do not let the barbarians gain a pivotal figure and set up a nation. Second, do not weaken the barbarian forces too much.


These were the principles that had never been shaken so far. Up to this point, this was knowledge that the elite knights were privy to. But there was also another secret that was only known to the head of the Taran family. The barbarians were sacrifices for calming the madness flowing in the Taran blood.


Under the justification of protecting the nation through war, they were able to kill as much as they desired. For many generations, the head of the Taran family had come to use this method to suppress their instinctual craving for blood. And that cursed blood also flowed in Hugo’s body. Even without his nauseating birth secret, Hugo sometimes had doubts as to whether he was really human.


‘A year and two months, huh. I have never not killed something for more than a year.’


The impatient thirst in his body could not be resolved without seeing blood. If he held a woman, it would settle down to some extent, but even that had a limit. But right now, his condition was very good. The desire for murder did not soar. Rather, he was annoyed. It was probably okay to just send the knights, was there a need for him to personally attend as well? The problem was that the content of Calliss’ message was ominous.


‘They have a pivotal figure and are integrating the tribes…’


The fact that they would be facing a bigger enemy if the barbarian were to established a nation was only a secondary issue. The main problem was that dealing with the barbarians would then become a nation-to-nation affair. If this happened, there would be less room for the Taran family to interfere. And as a result, the influence of the Taran family would diminish. Hugo could not let that happen.


He couldn’t hand over the Taran family to Damian with its power weaker than it was now. Otherwise, where was his dignity as a father?


* * *


Hugo summoned the knights that were above division leader to his office.[1] He assigned tasks to the knights that guarded his wife, the knights that shall remained in the capital, and the knights that would join the ranks for the punitive expedition.


“Dean. I need you to keep doing your work here.”


“Yes, my lord.”


Dean replied without any questions. He was left to guard the Madam in the capital.


“My lord.”


Roy lifted his hand.


“I want to stay in the capital.”


All the eyes on Roy were saying, ‘What whim hit this guy in the face today?’. This was the very same guy that was always the most excited and jumped to the forefront every time they went to subjugate the barbarians. They all knew how vexed he was for not being able to attend last year due to the duty of guarding the Crown Prince.


“You again.”


Thinking that Roy had not thrown away his habit of irritating people into a duel for no reason and hurting blameless people, Hugo’s gaze turned fierce. Here he thought Roy would stay quietly after the coronation party, but it looks like his body was getting itchy.


Seeing the ominous look in his Lord’s eyes, Roy flinched and quickly added:


“I mean I will do the job of guarding the Madam. It’s not that I’m worried Dean can’t do it. It’s just that everyone else have been going to the north and back, but if Dean continues to stay in the capital, he’ll lose his wild side.”


“…he’ll lose his battle instinct you mean.”[2]


When Hugo corrected him, the knights burst into laughter. Roy didn’t look ashamed, rather he talked boastfully.


“A man shouldn’t care about those small stuff.”


Hugo wondered if he should suspend the talk for now and beat up this punk.


“Plus, it’s much better for me to be here when the lord is not around. Ignoring skill, Dean has all his holes plugged. Even if something happens to the Madam, he will definitely say, ‘you can’t do this’ first.”[3]


Dean’s expression stiffened while the other knights struggled not to laugh as their shoulder trembled.


“As for me, I will beat them up first. I might not look like it, but I protected His Majesty for over a year. I’m telling you, I saved his life, you know.”


Look at me, I’m so great. Seeing the triumphant air around Roy, Hugo let out a sigh. Who knew where the guy tossed out his age, there was no sign of improvement in his childish actions. Hugo had given up; Roy would likely never change.


“Dean. What do you think?”


“Roy’s suggestion has reason to it. When it comes to flexibility, there is no one better than Roy. I will follow your order, my lord.”


Hugo was worried. Roy’s skills were outstanding but the biggest problem with him was his uncertainty. No one knew when and where he was or what he was doing. Hugo had heard that Roy was called the Mad Dog. It was really a good nickname for the punk.


‘If he’s ordered to do something, he definitely does it.’


The problem was that he didn’t care about the means or the method. Come to think of it, the means and the method that were used in order to protect his wife didn’t matter. Even though Hugo was worried about Roy causing trouble beside his wife, he was at ease placing his wife’s safety in Roy’s hands. He would be a strong watch guard.


With his worries coming to an end, Hugo left the duty of guarding his wife to Roy, and Dean joined the ranks of the knights for the punitive expedition.


Translator’s Corner:


[1] Honestly not sure what to call this [μ‘°μž₯κΈ‰]. According to what I found, it’s not a title. More like a team leader of sorts.


[2] The joke disappears in the translation. The word for [wild side] is yaseong while the word for [battle instinct] is taseong. Roy mixed it up.


[3] ‘All his holes plugged’. He’s saying that Dean is too rigid/too stuffy. This was the best translation, albeit a liberal one, to somewhat keep the joke.

______________
Lucia Chapter 98
LUCIA
C98
< — Ever After — > (3)


Lucia received an invitation from the Queen for refreshments and went to the palace. In the corridor leading to the Queen’s palace, she encountered a familiar noblewoman. When the woman discovered Lucia, she immediately stopped walking and bowed her head. Lucia wasn’t that pleased to meet the Countess of Alvin, Sofia. She was going to just walk by, but her gaze landed on Sofia’s protruding stomach and her feet came to a stop.


“It turned out that I will leaving the capital soon. I came to the Palace to briefly give my greetings to Her Highness the Queen, Duchess.”


“I have no intention of blaming you. Please, lift you head. I don’t think it’ll be good for the baby if you bend like that.”


Sofia placed her hand under her protruding stomach as if supporting it and lifted her head. Her expression was serene. She seemed like a completely different person from the Sofia that Lucia met at the tea party. Her impression had also changed a little, perhaps because she had gained some weight.


“You are leaving the capital?”


“Yes. I will be going to abroad because of my husband’s business.”


“Is it okay to travel like that when you’re pregnant?”


“The doctor said there was no problem as long as we’re careful. My husband wanted me to stay back in the capital to deliver but if that happened, I would be away from my husband for too long.”


“…I see. I hope you give birth to a healthy and beautiful child.”


Sofia stopped Lucia as she began to walk away.


“I apologize once again for my rude actions previously. I was beyond foolish and could not distinguish what was before me. I am not asking for your forgiveness. I just wanted to tell you that I am sincerely sorry for my actions to you, Duchess.”


“Since Countess tells me so sincerely, I do not wish to be a narrow-minded person. I hope we can treat each other a little more comfortably next time.”


Lucia looked at Sofia who was expressing her gratitude with a delighted expression. Sofia looked the happiest she had ever seen her look. She seemed to be soaked with the joy of soon becoming a mother.


Perhaps Sofia would not have the tragic ending that Lucia saw in her dream, instead, she would give birth to a healthy child, become a happy mother, and live the rest of her life as a noblewoman without any troubles. Lucia just had a feeling.


The Count of Alvin’s earnest courtship and eventual marriage to Sofia was still circulating in the social circles as a romantic story of pure love. Lucia heard that the Count of Alvin didn’t rebuke Sofia after hearing what she did, on the contrary, he shielded her.


This incident seemed to have played an important role in confirming the couple’s affection.


‘So you realized the importance of the person by your side. You are wise, Sofia.’


Lucia inwardly prayed for Sofia’s safe delivery.


‘A baby…’


Lucia unconsciously touched her flat abdomen and immediately withdrew her hand, startled at herself. She kept gazing in the distance until she could no longer see Sofia’s retreating back.


* * *


In the Queen’s Palace, Katherine had already arrived and had taken a seat. This time, the opposite happened, and Katherine heard of the Queen’s meeting with the Duchess today and invited herself to it.


The three of them sat together and comfortably talked with each other. They didn’t need to look good in front of the other, nor did they need to curry favor and study each other’s face. Katherine was in the know for a lot of things that happened in the social circle and she usually told them of interesting news.




“There is an interesting play these days. Have you seen it?”


“I hear seeing the play makes one laugh. It’s untidy…”[1]


Beth made a sour face. Until now, most plays depicted a magnificent epic story for a grand stage, or a tragedy. For these plays, one either sits in a refined manner while being quietly touched or sometimes, the noblewomen dabbed their tears with their handkerchief.


‘So it was around this time that comedy began to spread.’


By the time Lucia entered the social circle in her dream, comedy had already spread like an epidemic. And Lucia did not like plays.


Her life was already tiring enough. She didn’t want to see a tragedy and end up crying. But that didn’t mean she liked comedies. When she saw a comedic play, it was good and made her laugh a lot but afterwards, she felt empty so after seeing it a few times, she stopped. Countess Lucia didn’t have the heart to enjoy the comedic performance.


“Everyone knows how good it feels to laugh without keeping up any appearances. Your Highness the Queen should go see it once. As for me, I have seen it three times.”


“Three times?”


Katherine enthusiastically poured out the emotions she felt from seeing the comedy. Beth already looked half-sold on the issue. Lucia knew from the dream that the Queen later became an enthusiastic admirer of comedy.


“Your Highness, what happened to Count Ramis? I keep hearing that he suddenly went down to the territory.”


Katherine lightly asked, and Beth gave a wry smile. She briefly explained the circumstances told to her by her father.


“My father said he hasn’t been able to look around the fief in a long time and sent down my brother in his place. There’s no other meaning behind it.”


She didn’t want to air her brother’s dirty laundry. Even if he wasn’t a very desirable brother, he was still her brother.


When Beth was a child, she hated both her brother and her mother and disliked the sight of them. Her mother carried David as if he was her only child and was not even concerned with Beth. Beth was always yearning for her mother’s affection. But when she got older and had her own child, she simply felt that her late mother was pitiful.


Beth knew that Robin was her half-brother. Nevertheless, Robin was still her brother. It was merely a tragedy caused by her parent’s incompatible marriage, Robin was not at fault.


When her father brought up divorce with her mother and their relationship was severely estranged, her father had another woman in his heart. But even then, he didn’t completely abandon her mother. Her father was definitely wrong. But her mother did not try either. They both had a hand in the unhappy turnout of their marriage.


Translator’s Corner:


[1] She means it makes you laugh uncontrollably and you lose your refinement…smth like that.


< — Ever After — > (3)


“Duchess. I heard that lately, you rarely appear at social activities. Apparently, you haven’t gone to a tea party in almost a month.” (Beth)


“Yes. My health isn’t very good these days.”


Lucia tried not to blush. He had left a lot of traces on the exposed part of her neck and arms, so she could not appear in public places in such a speckled state. When she cried to him that she couldn’t go out in such a state, he got a kick out of it, instead of being apologetic. It was only after she declared that they would sleep in separate rooms if he did it again, that he quit his mischief.


“Oh no. It must be because the weather is so cold these days. Even Her Highness the Queen has been cooped up in her palace lately.”


Beth smiled pleasantly, not saying anything. Seeing Beth’s strange smile, Katherine tilted her head, then her eyes widened.


“You have something to be cautious about!”


“A few days ago, I was diagnosed by the Imperial doctor. I have been careful so far because I could sense something.”


“His Majesty must have been delighted.”


“He asked me to give him a princess this time.”


Lucia belatedly realized what they were talking about after being unable to follow the conversation and she saw Beth stroking her lower belly.


“Congratulations, Your Highness.”


“Thank you. I have already had three children, so I don’t want to make a big fuss.”


“What are you talking about? It is only right that it is celebrated. Since elder brother keeps talking about wanting a princess, do you hope for that now?”


“It might be a son again.”


“Ah…that’s a little, you know. I want to see a cute baby girl.”


“Oh my. Aren’t your nephews cute?”


“Boys are too much. Just one hour with them will drain you completely.”


A handmaid approached Beth and whispered something to her.


“Bring him in.”


Beth instructed the maid and asked the two of them for understanding.


“It seems Ethan is feeling peevish after waking up from a nap. I think I’ll have to interrupt our fun.”


Ethan was the third son of the King and turned three years old this year. Lucia and Katherine were willing to understand the situation and after a while, the handmaid came in with a blonde little boy in her arms.

The child rubbed his eyes, looking annoyed, and as soon as he saw his mother, he stretched out his arms, wrapped them around her neck and cuddled up in her arms. Beth gently stroked the child’s back while patting him and kissed his forehead.


The sight of a mother pouring out her love onto her child was more beautiful than the smile of an enchanting beauty. It was sublime and mysterious. Lucia remembered her late mother. She remembered her mother hugging her and calming her down after she had scary dream.


As Lucia looked at the prince who was quickly falling asleep in his mother’s arms, she projected her childhood onto him and overlapped the image of the Queen happily embracing her beloved child with herself.


‘A child…’


The greed of man was endless. Just a month ago, she was happy to get his love and felt as if she had gotten the whole world. She had already prepared herself to never have a child in this life. The problem was that she gave up on it earlier than she gave up on his love. She didn’t know why the firm determination she made in the past was beginning to waver so easily after getting his love.


* * *


Lucia came down from the royal carriage that brought her out from the Inner Palace. The Taran family carriage was waiting to take the Duchess back to the mansion. Since a while ago, she had been stuck on the thought of a child.


‘I know talking about a child now is premature. We just started seeing eye to eye.’


Her desire to have his child was her greed after all, even with the excuse that she loved him. Even though she knew that, she kept thinking of the image of the young child in the Queen’s arms.


Because of this, Lucia didn’t notice that her guard Dean didn’t come out to meet her and simply climbed up the carriage stairs that were dropped down by the servant. But suddenly, she felt something pulling her and fell forward. She let out a short scream and fell into a familiar embrace.


“Hugh?”


His eyes curved gently as he looked at her and he brought his lips to hers. One of his arms held her waist while the other held her arm as he supported her unstable position.


He tasted her sweet lips like biting into a fruit, and swallowed her hot, tender flesh. His tongue effortlessly dove into her small mouth, sweeping through her moist innards, and savoring the faint scent of tea leaves coming from her.


After ending the long kiss, he was still not satisfied. As she gasped for breath with a flushed face, he kissed her lips lightly again. Then, he knocked on the wall of the carriage. Understanding the signal, the carriage began to move slowly.


“Why are you…” (Lucia)


“I came to pick you up.” (Hugo)


Lucia smiled faintly and wrapped her arms around his neck. She liked the light pressure on her back as he returned the hug and pressed his hand against her back.


‘Things are fine as they are.’


Lucia’s heart was overflowing with happiness. The strange emptiness from a moment ago had disappeared. She didn’t want to do something stupid like agonizing over something she couldn’t have and ignoring the happiness right in front of her.


Over the past month, on the outside, their relationship had not changed much. Even before they confirmed their feelings for each other, they were known to everyone as a devoted couple. Even if she was thrilled by the fact that they had unexpectedly confessed their love to each other; to other people, they were just a little more unusual.


Thanks to this, Jerome had been dealing with an internal dilemma. In the matter of a month, another maid had quit. As expected, the reason was marriage. It was unprecedented for maids to quit a stable, high-paying job like the Duke of Taran’s, one after the other.[1] Jerome had to worry about bad rumors turning up that the job environment was so atrocious, causing so many to quit, and that brought him a headache.


“Do you want to go somewhere else instead of going home?” (Hugo)


“Go where?” (Lucia)


“I heard there’s a funny play these days.”


“Are you interested in such things?”


“I was told it was popular among noblewomen.”


Whether someone said it in passing and he remembered it, or whether he deliberately asked someone about it, either ways he made an attempt for her sake. Lucia was happy with just that. She kissed his cheek and gladly accepted his invitation for a date.


Translator’s Corner:


[1] They’re quitting because they keep being fed dog food and want to feed other people dog food too. In order words, they see the ducal couple happily married and want that for themselves. They keep quitting to get married.
____________
Lucia Chapter 99
LUCIA
C99
< — Ever After — > (4)


T/N: I got reminded by the comments that today was april fools. Was tempted…but nah.


The honored guest box was an enclosed chamber that no one in the audience could enter except for the two of them. Due to that, Lucia didn’t need to be conscious of people’s gazes and laughed to her heart’s content.


Despite coming to watch a play, Hugo had more fun watching Lucia laugh, and he actually spent more time watching his wife than watching the play.


The play was quite long. During the intermission, Lucia decided to stop by the break room. As soon as she entered the break room, she heard the loud laughter of women. Upon seeing Lucia, the group of women that were laughing together greeted her from a few steps away.


“Duchess, you came out on a date with your husband, didn’t you?”


“A husband who goes to see a comedy together with you! How wonderful is that?”


Despite the noblewomen’s envious greetings, the group gathered at the side erupted with laughter.


“Everyone seems to have enjoyed the play.” (Lucia)


“Ah…actually, we’re laughing for another reason. By any chance, has Duchess ever read the book called, ‘Love Under the Moonlight’?”


“I don’t believe so.”


Someone at the side began to explain for Lucia who wasn’t quite knowledgeable on the subject. ‘Love Under the Moonlight’ was a romance novel that was popular among noblewomen recently. It portrayed the comedic story of a noblewoman who prided herself as the most beautiful in the world despite having an unattractive appearance and fell in love with her guard knight.


But something similar to the novel’s plot had actually happened in reality. The main characters were Countess Wickson, who was a single woman after losing her husband several years ago, and her guard knight. Countess Wickson had a strange appearance in addition to being advanced in age, while the guard knight was a rarely seen handsome young man.


When the two of them turned up at the theater today, the noblewomen gathered around and gossiped about them while laughing.


“Ah…I see.”


Lucia replied, forcing a smile on her face. The fact that these noblewomen were enjoying themselves from ridiculing someone else, showed that their conduct wasn’t very good.


Lucia stopped by the restroom and quickly left the break room. On the way to the theater stands, she encountered the topic of discussion, Countess Wickson.


Lucia had ever only exchanged greetings with Countess Wickson and it was a long time ago, but she was unable to forget the Countess because her appearance was so unique. Lucia planned to lightly greet the Countess and pass by, but upon seeing the guard following behind the Countess, she was surprised and came to a halt.


‘Hanson…?’


Oh my goodness. It was the swindler who preyed on Lucia in her dream. There was no doubt he was the man she once believed herself to be in love with. Lucia quickly walked away to avoid revealing her stiff expression. And as she walked, she burst into laughter in spite of herself. Since today’s play was a comedy, the maid following behind her didn’t give her an odd look for the sudden laughter.


‘To think he was a dishonorably discharged knight. Was it because of a scandal with the Countess?’


Hanson was a man with a pretty appearance. He smiled softly with his blue eyes and whispered sweet words in the ear. In the dream, Lucia fell headfirst for the man’s affectionate words.


Lucia didn’t know whether Hanson really shared his heart with the Countess, or whether he did what he did to her to the Countess and the Countess held him in contempt, making him he lose the knight’s honor. But she didn’t care to know.



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In Lucia’s life, Hanson was nothing more than a passing wind. The wound caused by the betrayal of the man she believed in her dream didn’t even have a trace left. There was no space for darkness to crawl into her heart now.


Lucia returned to the theater stands and as soon as she saw her husband turning towards her, she was struck with awe. In her dream, she thought Hanson was a very beautiful man. But even if she looked at it objectively, her husband before her was much better looking.


This gorgeous man was her husband. Lucia was very satisfied. She grabbed him and kissed him, fully expressing her emotions. But it was her mistake. Because of her actions, he got excited and turned it into a long kiss, and because of that, she ended up missing the beginning of the play when it resumed.


* * *


After enjoying the play, Lucia returned home in a festive mood. But when she heard what Hugo said as she was retiring to bed, her happiness was dragged to the floor.


“…You have to go to the north.”


“When you went to the Palace, a knight came with a message from the north.”


Today in the office, Hugo took care of the duties regarding his territory that had been pushed back. Until this morning, he had no plan to leave for the North. He had intended to only send his knights for the subjugation this time.


But after seeing the contents of the message from Callis, it would seem that he needed to personally go and check out the situation.


“How long will it take?”


“I’m not sure. Even if I deduct the time to journey back and forth, it will take at least a month. And it could take even longer.”


Do not weigh on the footsteps on someone leaving for work. Lucia knew that much but she couldn’t help but feel sad. The dream-like events of last month were fleeting. But a month without him would be like an eternity.


“So did you bring me to see a play today to appease me?”


“Not exactly…maybe a little. Is it wrong?”


“No. You were trying to make me feel good.”


Lucia knew that his thoughtfulness was directed solely to herself. No one would ever imagine the Duke of Taran taking his wife to a play in order to butter her up.[1]


“When are you leaving?”


“Tomorrow at dawn.”


“So early…”


“The situation over there looks serious, so I think I should go as soon as possible.”


“I will see you off…”


“Don’t do that. Get plenty of sleep. I won’t feel good leaving you behind.”


Lucia didn’t persist any more. Just as he wouldn’t feel good leaving her, it would be hard for her to send him off. It would be better for her to open her eyes in the morning and he was already gone.


She was unable to hide her sadness and Hugo pulled her into a hug. The thought that he wouldn’t be able to hold her soft body for a long time made him feel distraught. If things could be done his way, he wanted to take her to the North.


But he knew that she couldn’t match the speed with which they had to rush to the north on horses. Moreover, he didn’t even want to take her to the dangerous border regions.


Translator’s Corner:


[1] The words ‘butter her up’ seem out of place to me but couldn’t think of anything better. Anyone have a better alternative?


< — Ever After — > (4)


“While I am not here, Roy will be in charge of guarding you.”


“Sir. Krotin?”


“Although he raises a lot of trouble, his skills are undoubtable. Hence, I decided on him even though he might be rude to you.”


“I am aware of Sir. Krotin’s attitude of treating people with ease. But I do not think he is such a bad person, so I’m not sure why he has such a frightful nickname. He’s also a knight you trust.”[1]


On the day Lucia went to propose marriage to him, she saw Roy and Hugo together and from what she saw, she felt the relationship between the two of them was more candid and comfortable than the rigid relationship between a Lord and his knight.


“That guy is a lot of things.”


Hugo recalled an old memory.


His first meeting with Roy, was as a mercenary slave called Hue. Some barbarian tribes would often kidnap people and enslaved them, or release them for a price. The mercenary whom Hue was enslaved to, received a request to rescue the kidnapped son of a noble.


While Hue was executing his mission under the orders of his mercenary owner, he saw other children who were captured. He didn’t have a soft heart that sympathized with other children’s situation, but the young boy with unusually spiteful eyes caught his attention. He alone was bound by the limbs and locked up in solitary confinement, yet he refused to be submissive.


Hue secretly snuck in at dawn when his mercenary owner was asleep and released the boy. He didn’t know why he did it. It was just a whim.


Hue broke the ropes binding the boy without saying anything, and the boy just stared at what Hue was doing without saying anything too. When his body became free, the boy grinned at Hue.


[I will repay you.]


And after a long time had passed, Hue reunited with the boy. It was around the time when the ducal couple perished in the hands of his brother, Hue had become Hugo and as the heir to the Duke, he was looking over the border due to the barbarian’s frequent plundering. As he was going around the border regions, he got a report that there was a man killing only barbarians on sight.


[He has great skill. But no matter if he is hurting only barbarians, he does not interact with anyone and might be dangerous, so I was unable to approach him carelessly.]


[The man has appeared again! He is in battle with several barbarians.]


Hugo went to the area where the battle was going on and watched the man fight from a distance. The three to four barbarians were unable to win against the one man.


Hugo felt the man looked familiar, but he couldn’t recall where he had seen him before. Despite the warnings of the people around him that it could be dangerous, he approached the man. The man simply stood there and watched Hugo approach him. Upon getting closer, Hugo remembered the guy. It was the boy he had freed from the barbarian prison when he was young. His red hair had given a deep impression back then and was still as intense.


[Why are you going around killing barbarians?]


[Those bastards killed my family.]


[Are you going to continue?]


[I have nothing else to do.]


[If you need something to do, would you like to come with me?]


[Will it be fun?]


[Much more.]


Just like the smile he had given when he was young, Roy grinned widely at him. Unlike Hugo, Roy seemed unable to remember their connection when they were young.


After receiving the tragic news from Roam, Hugo quickly left for Roam, and Roy followed along. While he was frantically settling the situation, he forgot about Roy. In the meantime, the guy shamelessly made himself comfortable and was doing nicely. After suppressing him with his power when he acted up a few times, the guy became a little more obedient. And when he realized that he couldn’t overcome Hugo with his skills, he felt wronged and lodged his complaints to Hugo.


[You said it would be fun! You swindler!]


Even though he grumbled, Roy did not run away. He learnt the minimal sense of propriety to stay among people and got along well with some of the family’s knights. And at some point, Roy became a knight of the family.


Hugo couldn’t tell her everything, but he told her some parts about his connection with Roy. Lucia listened with fascination and was amazed.


“So Sir. Krotin is a special person to you.”


“…Is that so?”


“Of course. If Sir. Krotin is in danger, you will go to rescue him, won’t you?”


Hugo couldn’t imagine Roy being in danger. The guy seemed like he would survive even in hell. Who knows? He might even jump into the firepot, courting danger because he believed in his strength too much. If it were such a pathetic case, he could click his tongue and leave him to suffer. But he didn’t think he could stand by and let the guy die.


“Mm. I suppose so.”


“Truly, the more I know about you, the more I am amazed. A lot of the things around you are unordinary. Then, what about the butler? How did you meet?”


Hugo almost fell for her sparkling eyes attack. Still hugging her, he changed their position and lay her down on the bed, towering over her.


“I told you not to talk about another man in bed.”


“I wonder who started it.”


“Even if I do it, you can’t. Don’t show curiosity either.”


“Really unreasonable.”


His lips gently landed on hers.


“So you hate it?”


Lucia laughed and wrapped her arms around his neck.


“How can I?”


The sound of her laughter in his ear made his heart feel warm.


“Always have the guard with you, no matter where you are going. Don’t be alone anywhere.”


“I’m more worried about you than myself. You are going to the battlefield.”


“You don’t have to worry about me at all. All you have to do is sleep well and eat well.”


“Even if you were the strongest person in the world, I would still worry about you. You have to be careful, don’t get hurt.”


Hugo hugged her tighter, as if answering her. When he was with her, he felt like he was an existence more precious and valuable than anything else.


Maybe if it was her, she could love the Hue that wasn’t Hugo. Maybe one day, she would be able to imbue his dark childhood which was deeply hidden as if sealed, with her clear color. He felt like someday, he would be able to reveal all his secrets to her.


“You’ll be back within the year, right?”


There were only two months left before the year came to an end.


“I’ll spend the morning of the New Year with you.”

___________________
Lucia Chapter 100
LUCIA
C100

< — Ever After — > (5)


The man was given the mission of monitoring the actions of David, the Count of Ramis. All he had to do was roughly know where David went and whom he met with. This kind of mission was very easy for him because he had the experience of doing close surveillance where his own life was threatened. He felt dissatisfied because the mission was too easy. He wanted to get more dangerous and important missions.


So, he thought that if he found something important about the Count of Ramis, it would be a great boost to his career. Without realizing it, he drew closer and closer to the target within a few days.


‘He’s punctual today too.’


After coming down to the Ramis territory, David often went to the village pub to hit the bottle. In the Ramis territory, there were no high-class bars that attended only to nobles like in the capital. When the son of the territory lord entered the shabby bar where ordinary villagers went to, everyone drinking alcohol inside held their breath.


The noisy pub became silent in an instant and David alone drank in the set atmosphere. After a couple of customers that were about to leave were clubbed by David’s attendants, no one was able to leave and they all just sat there, holding their breaths.


The man secretly watching David felt uneasy to see this display of authority. The man was commoner-born. In his hometown, he got into trouble because he didn’t fawn over the haughty nobles and ended up leaving his hometown with gnashed teeth.


David got up and left the pub. And the man who was disguised as a customer also got up secretly. As soon as he left the pub, he quickly looked left and right, but he didn’t see David.


‘Where did he go?’


Inside the dark path leading to the village, a human shaped shadow flickered. The man carefully moved his feet.


Wham!


He was slammed hard on the back of his head and lost his consciousness on the spot.


“Find out who he is.”


David’s eyes blazed with bloodthirst as he looked at the man collapsed on the ground. His attendants bowed their head in reply.


“No. Throw him into prison for now. I will do the interrogation later.”


David ground his teeth. He could roughly guess who had put a tail after him.


‘So he sends me down to the fief and even puts me under surveillance. Father.’


***


Anita was informed by the staff that a VIP had been escorted to the VIP suite. She entered the VIP suite with a cunning smile on her face. With a face reddened from intoxication, David saw Anita and heartily called out to her.


“Oh, Countess. I have come.”


Anita sent out the female employees serving at the side with her eyes.


“If you had sent word of your arrival, I would have come sooner.”


“Are you uncomfortable because I suddenly came to find you?”


“Of course not. It is the greatest honor for Your Lordship to come find me often.”


Hearing the extravagant title that didn’t match his status, David just chuckled and said that it was nice.


“As expected, the only one who understands me is Countess.”


“I told you. Call me Madam Juel, not Countess Anita here.”


“Yes, you did. Yes, you did. Madame…Madame Juel.”


After throwing the unknown man following him in prison, David was enraged and recklessly came to the capital. When he got to the capital, he realized that he couldn’t go home. If he went to question his father about the man following him without concrete evidence, he would be scolded severely instead. As he was looking for a place to go, he thought of the very agreeable Countess and went to her bar.



David stopped by Anita’s bar everyday until he was chased down to the fiefdom. Fabian wanted to know what exactly the two of them were talking about, but even if he had the ability to know, there was nothing of value to be found. The two of them had only just gotten close in the meantime. To be more precise, Anita was in the process of getting David’s trust.


Anita was skilled in the art of eloquence and was good at bettering a man’s mood. In addition, she had a moderately broad knowledge on topics that men were interested in, such as politics and the economics field. Most of the men that talked to Anita were completely enraptured after conversing with her.


The only man that had been unaffected after talking to Anita, even with their deep relationship of spending the night together, was the Duke of Taran. This was because Hugo did not have genuine conversations with any woman.


When Anita realized that the Duke of Taran would look annoyed when a woman chattered noisily at his side, she cautiously kept her mouth shut as much as possible. So Hugo did not know the flirtatious side of Anita. But even if he knew, he probably wouldn’t have cared.


< — Ever After — > (5)


Edited by: ShadowDog


“Are you returning back to the capital now? If so, I will be able to see you often again.” (Anita)


“Rather than that…”


The intoxicated David began to mumble and make a racket. Most of David’s words were typical. He resented his father, he felt sorrow for his mother, and a hostility towards the Duke of Taran that was more like obstinacy. David’s insides were quite twisted unlike what one would expect from the precious son of a Duke. And that was why Anita liked David. People like him were easier to use.


Anita steadily built up David’s confidence in her so that David could open his heart to her. She sincerely agreed to everything he said and sometimes, she didn’t even charge him for his drink. She said she wanted to be his friend and comfort him. When David touched her while he was drunk, she pushed him away and made a saddened expression.


[I believed I could be true friends with your Lordship. Was I foolish to believe so?]


David, who had treated her as a bar hostess at first, began to show decorum to her as a Countess.


[You are better than a hot-blooded man. I have never thought that I could be friends with a woman, but I think it can be possible with Countess.]


Deep in Anita’s heart, her resentment towards the Duchess had grown bigger and it was swallowing her like a pitch-black abyss. She constantly denied her terribly declining position, but she couldn’t stop working as the hostess of the bar. When she sold her smile to numerous men and received their reverent gazes, she felt like she was alive.


But she could not admit that it was her nature. And she blamed the Duchess for pulling her down to this level and harbored hatred in her heart. Her power was too weak to threaten to the Duchess. But isn’t it said that even a cornered mouse would bite the cat.


Anita searched for an opportunity. And the person she had set her eyes on as an excellent tool, was David. She didn’t plan to rush anything, but looking back on the situation, things seemed to be progressing smoothly. David’s anger and jealousy was growing bigger and bigger.


“Why would my father even get someone to follow me! There is definitely someone slandering me. That Taran guy is driving a wedge between us. He is lingering around like a thorn in my side!”


Even if he was the heir to a Duke, he was merely just a Count, yet he says the Duke of Taran was scheming against him and slandering him?


‘There is no way.’


While ridiculing David in her heart, Anita comforted him.


“Then Your Lordship shouldn’t just endure but make a counterattack. If it is to the extent of humiliating the Duke of Taran, I can also manage.”


“Humiliate…? How?”


Anita hid her satisfied smile and continued speaking in an unimportant tone.


“Spreading a rumor that you are in a deep heart-to-heart relationship with the Duchess. Even if such a rumor spread, the Duke of Taran cannot come to dispute it with Your Lordship. And if he does, that is humiliating in its own way.”


David was hesitant. He was uncomfortable with doing something that would smear the reputation of the Duchess. Despite his negative feelings towards the Duke of Taran, the Duchess remained as fluttering puppy love in David’s heart.


“And sometimes rumors become real. A man and a woman who meet because of a rumor, grow close, and then dependent on each other.”


David was confident that the Duchess would be charmed by him as long as he had the opportunity to properly talk with her. If there was a rumor about them, he could use that as an excuse to talk with her. Anita who was well aware of David’s cunning heart, took hold of the opportunity.


“Mm…but if we make a fake rumor, it will be revealed quickly…” (David)


“Fake? No. We should make the real thing.” (Anita)


“What do you mean?”


“When it comes to rumors, all you have to do is provide a clue. If there is a scene where two people meets secretly, and people sees it, the rumors will spread in no time.”


The Duchess mostly participated in quiet social activities and only attended tea parties. And it was a wide-spread rumor that the ducal couple’s marital relationship was good. It was human nature to feel awe towards an unattainable target, but the ugly human heart also feels delight at the fall of that unattainable target.


If they created a scene where David who was known to have gone down to the fief, and the Duchess, were found to be secretly meeting, the scandalous rumors would spread in a flash like fire on a dry leaf.


The number of scandals circulating in the social circle were so many that it was ridiculous, but the impact of adding a scandal to noblewoman with a very clean reputation was completely different from adding one more rumor to someone with many rumors about them.


Authenticity did not matter. Even if the rumor was later revealed to be untrue, there would still definitely be someone who will voice out that such rumors turned up in the first place because there were grounds for it. Once a rumor spreads, it could settle down, but it could not be eradicated.


“In a few days, it will be the founding day.”


It was the first founding day since the ascension of the new King. The Duchess rarely went to balls, but she would not miss the founding party.


“There will be an extensive party and opportunely, the Duke of Taran is not in the capital. There is no better chance than this.”


“The biggest problem with this is how can the Duchess and I, be together alone without being seen?”


“I will make that opportunity for you.”


“Hmm…But why is Madame Juel helping me so actively?”


Anita teared up and confessed that she had once been a lover of the Taran Duke but was cruelly abandoned. And that if she had the chance, she wanted to exert a small revenge on the Duke of Taran.


David was thrilled and exclaimed that as expected, the Duke was a wicked and disrespectful man.


“Your Lordship only needs to help me with one thing.”


“And what is that?”


Anita visibly worried over whether to talk or not and only when David promised that he would help her in any way possible, did she open her mouth.


“I heard that the Ramis House had a magical tool that can change one’s appearance. Please lend that to me for a while. That’s all you need to do.”


Editor’s Corner:


*Rumors can’t be completely eradicated? Hmm, I wonder what Hugo has to say about that; you know what they say, dead men tell no tales.

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